Almost 1,000 overseas nurses have had their applications to work in the UK put on hold by the Nursing and Midwifery Council due to concerns about fraudulent registration, Nursing Times has learned.
The NMC suspended applications from overseas nurses at the beginning of February, initially for one month.
This has since been extended and the regulator now plans to begin considering applications from overseas nurses on 2 April. In the meantime a backlog of 994 applications has built up. During 2012 the regulator registered on average 100 new overseas nurses a month, meaning it could take almost a year to clear it.
Chief executive Jackie Smith said: “We need to offer the public a high degree of confidence in overseas registration. We recognise that what has been done has not been as robust as it should have been and we’re sorry.
“However we are moving quickly to redress this and produce a strong and consistent system to protect the public. We intend to resume overseas registration as quickly as possible.”
This week the NMC confirmed two issues had been identified with the registration process: concerns about whether identity documents had been properly validated and concerns over training requirements for nurse from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US.
Applicants from these countries had to take a 20 day course in order to register while applicants from most other countries had to take a three or a six month course. The NMC said it was not clear whether this policy had always been followed in practice.
The regulator said it had not yet discovered any documents that are confirmed to be fraudulent but, likewise, it is also unable to confirm that no false applications have been made.
The NMC confirmed it was considering requiring overseas applicants to attend the NMC’s offices in person with their documents in future, as the General Medical Council does.